Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Humor

Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Earlier this year, I read Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians and absolutely loved it. Consequently, I had high hopes for the next book in this series, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones. While there was still the same amount of self-awareness and humor in this book, it felt a little…off. Perhaps I should have read these two books closer together, but I had some trouble coming up to speed in the beginning and wasn’t entirely sure why the “goal” of this book was to find Alcatraz’s father. In any case, Sanderson’s world-building is still in top form here.

Of course, the “cute” way that this series was self-aware when I read the first book was a bit more annoying this time around. It almost felt like every chapter had to have a soliloquy, even if it didn’t link itself to where the plot was at the time—which often broke the flow of the action. Similarly, while the randomness introduced in Versus the Evil Librarians did seem to have some purpose, it seemed to have less of a purpose in this book. It felt like it was randomness for randomness sake, even if some of it did eventually come into play.

Despite the things that made the first book endearing becoming a little more grating in this book, I did enjoy the magic system, and more in-depth explanations of the lore were explored in this sequel. Things like why the main character is named Alcatraz and a better explanation of the “powers” of his family members helped round out the questions that weren’t necessarily obvious in the first book but still needed to be answered at some point anyway. The action was fantastic (if not against all laws of physics), and I wouldn’t mind seeing how the relationship between Alcatraz and Bastille develops in later books.

An amusing and well-rounded “silly fantasy,” I give Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Swim the Fly
Calame, Don
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

15-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Sean and Coop have been friends since kindergarten and have set summer goals for themselves since they can remember, though this year that goal almost seems impossible.

Trying to reach it gets them into situations and adventures you couldn't imagine happening to just some Lower Rockville Razorbacks of the Rockville Swimming Association.
I find this book a really great choice for a summer read, very relatable for most teens and also funny beyond all beliefs. It can get a little inappropriate for those under 15, though if you are comfortable with that kind of humor, it is hilarious. It is also a very great book for a swimmer to read, though you do not have to be a swimmer to understand everything or enjoy the book.

Reviewer's Name: Franscesca J
Awards:
Skink No Surrender
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Richard's cousin, Malley, has always been rebellious. However, this time Richard is really worried about her. Malley ran off with some guy that she met online and the cops can't find her. Richard knows that he can find her so he embarkes on an adventure along with Skink, a moderately sane one-eyed wandering vigilante. Skink No Surrender is awesome. Complete with daunting storms, poisonous snakes, giant gators, flying bullets, and a supposedly extinct woodpecker. Skink No Surrender is full of twists and turns that makes it impossible to put down. I read this book in under two days and I highly recommend it for any middle schooler or high schooler that is looking for a great adventure story.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Chomp
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Mickey Cray is a professional animal wrangler in the Florida Everglades. He has rented out his animals to countless television shows and movies. However, he knows that he is in trouble when Derek Badger, a "survivalist" on a reality TV show, wants to rent some of his animals and to hire Mickey Cray to be his bodyguard for wild Florida animals in the Everglades. This book is packed with wild animal encounters, including gators, snakes, and bats. In addition, Chomp includes escaping from a crazed gunman and tons of humor. I highly recommend this book for all middle school and early high school readers.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Flush
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Coral Queen, a very profitable casino boat, is dumping all of its sewage into the ocean. The only problem is that Dusty Muleman, the owner of the Coral Queen, is getting away with the illegal dumping since there is no evidence. Noah's Dad is concerned with the environment and always likes to do the right thing. However, he sometimes gets carried away. Therefore, Noah's Dad decides to sink the Coral Queen, but gets caught in the process and sent to jail. Now it is up to Noah to clear his dad's name and bust Dusty Muleman.
This book is hilarious and has a great moral. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout the entire book. I highly recommend this book to all middle and early high school aged readers.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Never before have I read a book that has been so self-aware . . . and I loved every minute of it. There’s breaking the fourth wall, and then there’s Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. A fun and hilarious read for teens and adults, this book’s premise is as ridiculous as it is original. Of course, while it tends to border on the random (for maximum comedic effect), this book also manages to tie all these random pieces together in the most satisfying way. The comedy in this book is effortless, and the plot is certainly the most interesting thing I’ve read recently.

I think the ability of this book to successfully break norms and fully immerse the reader in the world is due to Sanderson’s talent as a fantasy writer. The details that seem odd, like receiving a bag of sand for your thirteenth birthday, manage to be relevant to the climax of the story. Even the unique “superpowers” present in this narrative are fully fleshed out, and the minutia of how they work makes sense and adds to the depth of the characters. In fact, these superpowers practically define the personalities of the people who wield them.

While this is only the second Sanderson book I’ve finished reading (I’m still working on The Way of Kings ), I am quickly becoming a fan of his work. Or, at least I genuinely enjoy the shorter books that he writes, like this one. I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the books in this series, because the characters and the world are so real to me that I want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Who knew that unassuming librarians could make the best villains? Maybe that’s the whole point, though?

A hilarious, random, and well thought-out adventure, I give Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Genres:
Book Review: Don Quixote
Cervantes, Miguel de
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Written in 1605, and translated in at least 50 languages, the novel Don Quixote has often been considered the father of western literature. And for good reason. Coming in at around over 900 pages, this novel is an amazing read. This book follows the hilarious journey of Don Quixote and his portly sidekick, Sancho Panza, as they travel around Spain searching for adventures. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys long novels, humor, or anything like Princess Bride.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Awards:
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Backman, Fredrik
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fredrick Backman’s wit and humor ties in wonderfully with a tear-jerking finale. From beginning to end, I was torn between laughing and weeping. The innocence and wonder of childhood is perfectly captured, while also including the remorse of being thrust into the real world. Elsa, a seven year old girl, has an eccentric grandmother, the kind who just wants to make her happy. Her grandmother, however, does this in an odd way; shooting-paintballs-at- pedestrians-off-her-balcony type of way. And it works. Although Elsa is chased and bullied at school, her grandmother can paint a wonderful picture in her mind. But too soon, she dies of cancer, leaving behind a trail of letters for Elsa to discover, taking her on her last ever quest from her
grandma: giving the letters to their recipients. On the way, she discovers the story behind faces she never gave a second thought. Backman paints a masterpiece with his words, keeping me hooked and enthralled at every turn of this book.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Adams, Douglas
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is witty, genius, and an example of common English humor: dry, but hilarious.
Seconds before Earth is blown away to make way for an intergalactic freeway, Arthur Dent discovers galaxies and planets, lightyears beyond his own. He hitches a ride with his best friend, Ford Perfect. Ford is a cleverly disguised alien, who has been stranded on Earth for the past 15 years as he writes a revised guide to the galaxy. Arthur and Ford happen to hitch ride with the most disagreeable and intolerable creatures, the Vogon. They are then discovered and thrown into the soul-sucking abyss of space. Seconds before they suffocate, Ford and Arthur are picked up by a recently stolen ship, stolen by the president of the galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and his girlfriend, Trillian. The ship is on an improbability drive, which is why they crash land on a long believed mythical planet, called the Heart of Gold.
The planet was in a hibernation-like state, and has only just awoken recently. Trillian, Ford, and Zaphod explore while Arthur meets Slartibartfast, who explains that the Earth was a test, run by mice, to discovery the Question of Life, since they know the answer is 42. However, Earth was destroyed seconds before test completion. Trillian, Zaphod, and Ford are captured by the mice and kept in a dream-like prison. That is, until Arthur is brought to the mice and the group is reunited. The mice explain that they are interested in harvesting Arthur’s brain as organic evidence.
So, naturally, the group manages to escape in the knick of time, avoiding both the mice and the galaxy police, who are searching for Zaphod.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Awards:
Dawn of the Dreadfuls
Hockensmith, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As I’ve mentioned before in my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies , I understand the concept of combining this classic piece of romantic literature with its complete obverse; it just felt like it was almost held back from its full potential by adhering to (most of) the original manuscript. With the prequel to this book, Dawn of the Dreadfuls manages to examine the ridiculous nature of this mashup in a way that’s so tongue-in-cheek that the tongue has practically ruptured the cheek entirely.
That is, this prequel doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as the original Jane Austen adaptation did.

Even if the non-Pride and Prejudice and Zombies characters were mostly cartoonish in their representation of stereotypes and tropes, they were fun to read as they provided a delightful offset to the canonical characters of the Bennet family. Also, instead of trying to find some boring section of text wherein to insert some zombie excitement, Dawn of the Dreadfuls provides equal parts action and society to accommodate a balance that highlighted the extreme disparity between the two. In fact, when the two finally meet, it’s during the exciting climax of the story. Of course, knowing this is a prequel means there has to be some way out of the predicament; otherwise the original Pride and Prejudice and Zombies book cannot take place.

Despite all the things it has going for it, Dawn of the Dreadfuls suffers from a plot that seems to drag along like the un-functioning foot of a zombie. Sure, each plot point has its purpose, but they almost seem to belabor the point. There were a few chapters where I felt the plot to be somewhat repetitive if it weren’t for a slightly different outcome to show character growth. In any case, I’d still prefer this book over Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

A prequel that could fully explore a ridiculous combination, I give Dawn of the Dreadfuls 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Genres:
Book Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Midsummer's Night Dream is one of Shakespeare's many plays that he wrote. Unlike many of his works, this one does not have a sad and tragic ending, and is a drama more than anything. The story is about four lovers Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius. There is a whole love triangle where Hermia loves Lysander, but is forced to marry Demetrius, who Helena loves. For Hermia to escape getting married to someone she doesn't love, she and Lysander run off into a forest where they are outside the law. Already in the forest, there is drama going on between two faeries, Oberon and Titania. Titania is protecting an Indian boy that Oberon wants, so Oberon gets his faerie Puck to go receive a love potion, so that Titania will now be distracted by love and Oberon can snatch the Indian child. Back in the city however, there is a group of actors organizing a play. After one of them tries to take up every part in the play, they get it all organized and head off to the forest to practice. So already in the first act we got everybody running off to the forest to cause drama. This play shines at how good its humor is, and is jammed pack with drama. I would recommend anyone to read this fancy story.

Reviewer's Name: Christopher K.
Genres:
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Pratchett, Terry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For many years, I have heard of Terry Pratchett, but have never read any of his work. This came to light in 2015, when Pratchett died, and many fans of his work came forward to express their condolences. At that point, I hadn’t considered reading any of his work, but the outpouring of love for the recently deceased author made me reconsider. Consequently, I added some Pratchett books to my “to read” list and eventually chose The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents for my first foray into the written world of Terry Pratchett. I certainly picked well, as it won the Carnegie Medal in the year it was written.

I was a little worried that I would be lost coming into the Discworld series at anywhere other than the beginning, but since this book was written for children, it made it simple to ease into the universe Pratchett created. What I found most amusing about The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents was how self-aware and tongue-in-cheek it was. Talking animals are by no means a new concept in children’s literature, but Pratchett managed to show how ridiculous this idea was in the real world while also providing a somewhat solid explanation for how it happened.

The one aspect of this book that stood out the most was how British its humor was. I almost felt like I was listening to a Monty Python skit or an Aardman Animation movie as I worked my way through this audiobook. For those who appreciate British humor (or, I guess humour, as they spell it over there), I would highly recommend this book, as it’s certainly witty and made me chuckle on quite a few occasions. This humor overcomes the fact that the plot is a little confusing to follow in places as it jumps between different characters, but overall it’s a solid story.

An instant children’s classic with loads of British humour, I give The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur BFF Vol. 1
Montclare, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Lunella Lafayette is smart. Really really smart -- so much so that her parents and middle school classmates struggle to understand her. And as a latent Inhuman exposed to the terragen mists she should start expressing some kind of superpowers any day now. Nothing that being telepathically linked to a giant red Tyrannosaurus won't fix, right? This all ages comic works as the author has genuine respect for the voice and age of its protagonist. While the circumstances of this pairing are a little fantastic, the friendship is very real. This book is a great introduction to the wonder of comics for younger readers, and a great reminder for older ones.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca O.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
McBride, Lish
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I chose to read this book because it was featured on a list of horror books.
I wouldn't really call it horror but I really enjoyed reading it even if it wasn't what I expected. It's about a fast-food worker named Sam who lives in Seattle and is a necromancer, though he doesn't know it. There is another powerful necromancer in the area who wants to find and destroy Sam. I loved all of the characters, particularly Sam's sidekick Ramon and the evil necromancer Douglas. This book is a perfect balance of humor and dark fantasy and I aboslutely loved it. The only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is because of the ending. So much was just left open and it left me unsatisfied and wanting more. That aside, however, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes horror and fantasy and is looking for a laugh. This is totally one of my favorite books!
Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Lizzie W.
Flush
Hiaasen, Carl
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Flush, written by Carl Hiaasen was about a boy, named Noah. Noah has a father who is in jail for sinking a boat called the Coral Queen. His father has been put in jail before, and never regrets what he has done because he believes that he is responsible for his actions, and it is worth it for what he has done. Noah is used to his father doing crazy stuff like this, because when Noah's father sees something that upsets him, he will do whatever he can to stop it, especially with people hurting and damaging wildlife. The reason he got recently put in jail is because he claimed that he saw the boat putting all of their sewage into the ocean water. Even though his dad does lots of crazy and unpredictable things, Noah thinks his dad would never lie to him about what he saw. He starts to investigate and tries to prove that the Coral Queen did in fact put sewage into the ocean. This book did surprise me in some ways, and the book got more and more interesting as it went on.

Reviewer grade:

Reviewer's Name: Riley C.
Wookie Fortune Teller on a white background
Angleberger, Tom
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

What I liked about The Secret of the fortune Wookie is that it is humorous and related to Star Wars! For those who like humor and Star Wars, you would love reading it. It is about a kid named Dwight and his friends.
Dwight makes an origami Yoda and it uses the "force". But Dwight gets suspended and his friends don't know what to do without him. Would he want to come back to school after his suspension is over? Is he still interested in origami Yoda anymore? Find out in The Secret of the Fortune Wookie!

Reviewer Grade 7

Reviewer's Name: Achyut N.
Genres:
Chomp
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Chomp, written by Carl Hiaasen, was a great book that I read this year. The book was about how a boy named Wahoo, who has anything but normal life. His father keeps many wild animals in their own backyard- including an alligator and large snakes. When his father gets injured by an animal falling on his head, and Wahoo's mother goes to China, he is left to take care of all the animals and his father. One day, he and his father get a phone call from a television show that wants to use their animals for their nature show. Wahoo and his father end up saying yes, and they meet the star of the show. It didn't turn out as well as expected, because the star of the show is very confident in himself, and very selfish and rude. When he tries to film for his show, the alligator ends up getting very angry at him, and starts fighting with him. He ends up surviving, but since he saw the video, he thinks he can do anything crazy with animals. I really enjoyed reading this book because it was unpredictable, funny, and interesting to read.
Reviewer grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Riley C.
Genres:
How to Survive a Robot Uprising
Wilson, Daniel H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As a precursor to Robopocalypse , How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion takes a humorous approach to educating the reader about the capabilities and limitations of today’s robots. Similar in style to Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived , How to Survive a Robot Uprising uses the humor of preparing for the end of the world to poke fun at the limited possibility that we’d eventually be destroyed by the robots we use to make our lives comfortable today.

With my background in robotics (my Master’s Degree was in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Robotics and Design), I quickly realized how Daniel H. Wilson was writing this “guide.” Robots are powerful and useful machines, many of which can perform actions much more efficiently and accurately than humans can, thus leading to our swift and inexorable demise.
However, by the same token, they also have limitations and challenges that we humans do not (or at least don’t consciously think about). These robotic challenges are primarily used “against” them in this hypothetical scenario, revealing that most robots aren’t as indestructible as we make them out to be in fiction.

My only qualms with this book were that it was too short (I love this tongue-in-cheek writing style) and that the structure seemed kind of “loose.” Sure, different sections went over such topics as types of robots, and what ways these robots could be incapacitated, but the flow felt a bit like “stream of consciousness” writing. Granted, many of the topics cross over into each other, so it can be difficult to box them into discrete and distinct sections. Still, the narrative seems to jump all over the place as a result. Perhaps this is why Wilson decided to eventually write Robopocalypse, to add the structure that was missing from this “pamphlet.”

A funny book that subtly educates the reader about robot strengths and weaknesses, I give How to Survive a Robot Uprising 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Practical Applications for Multiverse Theory
Scott, Nick
2 stars = Meh
Review:

As someone who enjoys learning about the many interesting unknowns in our universe, the mere title of Practical Applications for Multiverse Theory (2016) caught my attention from the get-go. The ideas of parallel universes coexisting in an invisible space next to our own is something I eventually want to cover in my own writing (tentatively titled The Slumberealm Saga). And while this book somewhat delivered on the premise of its title, it unfortunately did so through an incredible plethora of clichés. Due to the authors’ background in improv comedy, it’s clear that they merely wrote this book to capitalize on the style’s random nature.

I’m not sure who the target audience for this book might be, since the main characters are high school students who use an awful lot of foul language. I would think it’s aimed at being a Young Adult (YA) comedy, but most of the laughs seem forced and trite. Told from two different perspectives, Scott and Davey, both characters aren’t really that likeable, and neither of them change that much (if at all) by the end of the book. In fact, it’s almost obnoxious how Davey is essentially a jerk to everyone, especially Scott, even though it becomes incredibly clear she should be more accepting of him earlier on in the plot.

Speaking of plot, it seems to drag in quite a few places, especially in the beginning as both characters start noticing the multiverse collapsing in on their school. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned clichés, the entire rest of the plot was pretty predictable, even if the different universes were quite random (and even that randomness was cliché). Nosebleeds indicating a fracture in spacetime, narcissistic cheerleaders, nerdy loners. Everything fits nice and squarely into the formula for a YA book (despite the obscenities). The problem with this is that the authors clearly saw they were writing clichés, because there were a few points that could have been cliché (like the two main characters falling in love), but just weren’t there at the end, thus leaving the reader somewhat unfulfilled. If you’re going to follow a formula, it needs to be followed in its entirety.

An easy and fast read with nothing much to offer, I give Practical Applications for Multiverse Theory 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book that was assigned for my literature class, meaning I had low expectations and thought I would hate the book. However, the opposite was true, and the author actually uses a humorous outlook to portray a witty teenage character in this novel. The book follows one school year in the life of Junior, a fourteen-year-old boy living with his family on the Spokane Indian Reservation near Wellpinit, Washington.

It is told in a diary style, moving from the start of the school year, through the major holidays, and ending with the beginning of summer. It includes both Junior's written record of his life and his cartoon drawings, some of them comically commenting on his situations, and others more seriously depicting important people in his life. The story, as a whole, is entertaining, funny, and is still able to discuss darker issues such as abuse, alcoholism, and poverty. Overall, I thought this novel was fantastic, and was an easy and casual read. I would recommend this book to practically anyone looking for a fun, entertaining story.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Alex K.

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